The Judevine Mountain Emailite #18

DAVID’S NOTES:

 

It was a year ago today I sent out THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #1. By the way, this little cyberzine is named after and in honor of Harry Golden’s CAROLINA ISRAELITE.

Forty years ago this year I helped create and became a co-editor of a little, rebellious, anti-establishment, underground magazine at my college in Ohio. We called it THE ANGRY I. The title stood for The Angry Intellectual. The title was also a pun on and an allusion to that San Francisco night spot called The Hungry Eye where, at that time, satirists hung out. Our logo was a bloodshot eye.

I’ve had my hand in politics and journalism in a small way, off and on, ever since. So it seemed natural and logical last year–in the middle of the campaign to stop the conviction of the impeached President–to create another little magazine.


GAY RIGHTS IN VERMONT

As all of you probably know by now, the Supreme Court of Vermont recently ruled that committed homosexual relationships should have the same rights and privileges afforded to straight married couples. There are over 1,000 rights that come with marriage which are currently denied to gay couples– including hospital visitation/medical decisions, rights of survivorship, power of attorney, filing joint tax returns, and so forth.

Very shortly after the Supreme Court announced their decision, Vermont Governor Howard Dean’s Office was bombarded with phone calls from anti-gay individuals opposing the decision. It seems various right-wing radio program hosts are primarily responsible for this phone campaign.

Word from the Governor’s Office is that they got about 900 calls the week before Christmas; most were from out-of-state and most were vehemently opposed to the Supreme Court decision. These calls were the first time many of the front line staff had had to deal with this type of hate and the calls did not leave the staff in much of a holiday mood.

In the weeks since, supporters of the decision have also gotten on the phone with many calls to the Governor’s office in favor of the decision.

The Vermont Legislature convened this week and one of the items on the agenda for this session is a bill to extend to gay and lesbian couples the civil rights and protections afforded heterosexual married couples.

This will surely be a contentious session in the Legislature, and we urge all Emailites to contact Governor Howard Dean or Lt. Governor Doug Racine, and register your support for this bill.

However, please, when you call, call with compassion in your heart for the people who are stuck answering all these phone calls. Dealing with this rush of phone messages is just one of the many other things they have to do. Be kind, and thank them for their time.

Contact: Governor Howard Dean’s office:
phone: (802) 828-3333 8AM-4PM
Fax: (802) 828-3339
or email: Lieutenant Governor – Douglas A. Racine at ltgov@leg.state.vt.us with a brief note to register your support.


RACHAEL’S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY

From Emailite Andy Doe comes the recommendation to get on line and contact RACHEL’S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY. E-mail: erf@rachel.org

Issue #679, December 9, ’99, for example, has a very interesting article, “MAKING SENSE OUT OF THE WTO,” which breaks down the meaning and significance of The Battle in Seattle and the purposes of the WTO.

Or contact:
Environmental Research Foundation
P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403
Fax (410) 263-8944

Back issues are available from http://www.rachel.org.


[Editor’s Note: In the December 15-22 issue of SEVEN DAYS, a weekly newspaper that comes out of Burlington, VT, I published the following essay on race in the Green Mountains.]

HIDIN’ OUT IN HONKY HEAVEN
by David Budbill

I came to Vermont in 1969 for a lot of reasons. I’d saved some money and I wanted to take a year off to write. As a city boy, I had that eternal dream of going to the country, to the wilderness. I came here also because I believed in Black Power.

During the school years 1967 through 1969 I taught at an all Black college in Pennsylvania. It was the late 1960s: assassinations, revolutions in Africa, riots in the streets of America, ghettos on fire. One Christmas vacation, one of our students was shot to death by the police in Trenton, New Jersey, for nothing more than standing on the street. Another student, an African, spent that same Christmas vacation in Sweden buying ambulances and sub-machine guns for the revolution back home in what was then called Southwest Africa.

Here in America, Black Power was at its peak. As the Self-Appointed Chairman, at the college, of the White Folks Auxiliary of the Black Power Movement, I sincerely believed that the time of “Black and White Together” was over; each race had to go take care of its own. My job was to deal with my own racism and the racism of my people.

I also felt it was my duty to get my white face out of that Black school. I believed that sincerely, but my exit from that world was not, rest assured, pure altruism. I took seriously–I approved of!–the militants who shouted, “Move on over, Mutha’, or we gonna move on over you!” Such slogans seemed to me to be the only appropriate response to ubiquitous white power and calcified white privilege. Thus my move to Vermont occurred in a public as well as a personal context.

But how, I ask myself now with hindsight, could moving to the whitest state in America be a way to deal with racism?

When I first came here a T-shirt popular at that time said: VERMONT: THE WAY AMERICA USED TO BE. In other words: clean, wholesome, community oriented, small, rural and . . . white.

I also ask myself, again with hindsight, how many of us white people, people like me–recently or not so recently immigrated–came here because it was easier NOT to confront the racial conflicts inherent in American life? Here in this land of whiteness we could relax, live with less stress, not have to confront daily the tensions inherent in a more ethnically and racially diverse place. How many of us escaped here to live simpler, cleaner, whiter lives?

By running to this bastion of whiteness 30 years ago, I had become, willy-nilly and only half-consciously, a part of the opening salvo in what became known as White Flight.

All these years later, I am still asking myself how we can, here in Vermont, deal with the issues of race and ethnicity when we live in what, compared to the rest of America, is essentially a segregated society.

The answer is coming to live with us.

In less than 20 years the majority of United States citizens will be non-white. Already more than half the population of California is non-white. Yet we white Americans still go about our business acting as if we don’t know these simple and inevitable demographic facts. We white people have always been a tiny minority of the world’s population, but our imperialism and ethnocentricity let us forget that.

Now however America increasingly looks the way the world really looks. White America knows this, if only half-consciously, and that knowledge propels rampant fear, more and more white flight from our cities and many other forms of ethnic and racial tension and reaction all across the country. We all know our white world is changing color.

Vermont is changing too. Between 1980 and 1990 the absurdly small non-white population of Vermont doubled; it went from .5% to 1%. My guess is, between 1990 and 2000 the non-white population here will have at least doubled again.

At the same time that non-whites arrive here in increasing numbers, Vermont also becomes more and more a place for rich white people, and with that increase comes a gentrified and self-satisfied smugness that settles down over this place, a smugness that can come only from gobs of white privilege, the Hidin’ Out In Honky Heaven mentality, so to speak.

It is easy to be white, liberal-minded and politically correct, in this bucolic and essentially segregated place. However, as Vermont begins to REALLY look like the rest of America and the rest of the world, how will Vermonters react?

I fear there may be serious trouble ahead when white privilege collides with a growing non-white population. The liberality of Vermonters is yet to be tested, but that test, it seems to me, is just around the corner.

Crisis, however, is also opportunity. As Vermont becomes more and more non-white we will have the chance to admit that the way we have lived here in the past is not only odd, but seriously at odds with the rest of the world.

The new millennium will offer us the chance to open ourselves to a bigger, more diverse and colorful life.

We will have the chance to admit that the segregated life we have lived here in the past has limited us severely. It has hurt us and made us small.